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Granite has been the counter surface of choice in many high-end homes since its heyday in the 1990s. But the material is not the most low-maintenance or contemporary looking. For those who went against the grain and chose an alternative material like quartz, you are now a majority!

The National Kitchen & Bath Association announced its results from a survey of kitchen designers that granite is no longer the top choice for kitchen counters — quartz is. In the granite vs quartz battle, quartz takes first place and here’s why:

Contemporary kitchens are preferred over traditional styles

contemporary kitchen granite and quartz - freshome.com

The top choices for kitchen design are contemporary style and quartz over granite. Image: Ferguson

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According to the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Study, the contemporary style is the No. 1 look homeowners want for their kitchen (22% and rising). Granite is not the best choice in a contemporary kitchen, because of its golden tones or distinctive and somewhat busy pattern.

Caesarstone Cambria Silestone quartz - freshome.com

A warm grey quartz countertop flows with the cool tones of this contemporary kitchen. Image: Nicholas Design Collaborative

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As homeowners start choosing more modern and minimalist patterns and sleeker, cooler colors like greys and whites for their kitchens, quartz offers more options.

Quartz is more eco-friendly than granite

eco-friendly quartz - freshome.com

An eco-friendly contemporary kitchen using low to no VOC materials and finishes. Image: Premier Kitchens

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When considering granite vs quartz, both are eco-friendly — and not. Granite is imported, which means the carbon footprint is larger, due to transport and shipping. Granite is a natural stone, but is porous and requires sealing with chemicals to minimize staining and etching. According to the EPA, granite may also off gas radioactive materials called radon. Levels are normally not harmful, but a radon home testing kit is inexpensive and can double check for you.

Quartz is made with at least 90% quartz material. The rest is polymers, color and resins, which bind the quartz and make it incredibly strong and stable. The resins, although not as dangerous as radon, may also release into the air. Quartz may also be imported, creating carbon footprint issues.

The U.S. manufacturer Cambria offers an eco-friendly quartz that solves both issues. Its quartz is made in the USA and is Greenguard Certified, which means it doesn’t create any indoor air quality issues from off gassing.

pros and cons of quartz and granite - freshome.com

Contemporary yet classic kitchen design featuring light work surfaces and rich wood floors. Image: Melissa Miranda Interior Design

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Quartz manufacturers Caesarstone and Silestone also certify their quartz products with the Greenguard badge. In addition, Caesarstone offers eco-friendly quartz surfaces that use recycled materials such as post-consumer glass.

Quartz offers more options as far as color and pattern

colorful quartz countertops - freshome.com

Caesarstone’s Apple Martini quartz is festive, modern and vibrant. Image: NZ Builders

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Because quartz is engineered, grain and color can be added to the surface. Want an apple green surface? Quartz has it. Looking for a snow white countertop with very little texture? There are plenty of options.

calcutta calacatta marble quartz - freshome.com

A quartz version of high-end Calacatta marble is more durable than the original. Image: Aidan Design

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Do you love the look of marble but don’t want to stress about your counters being damaged? Go with Caesarstone’s Calacatta Nuvo, like the image above.

Quartz is easier to work with

integrated sink design - freshome.com

Quartz is so durable and impermeable it can also be used as a sink, like in this contemporary integrated design. Image: Found Associates

When comparing granite vs quartz, the latter is as strong as granite but is more flexible. This means it can be used in ways granite can’t, like as a seamless counter with an integrated sink as in the image above.

quartz vs granite - freshome.com

This kitchen may feature lots of bright white, but its durable and kid-friendly. Image: The Designory

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The strength of quartz means you can have bigger ledges or overhangs without support. It’s also less likely to crack or chip than granite, which naturally has fine cracks and fissures in the stone.

Granite vs quartz: Quartz is lower maintenance

should I choose quartz or granite - freshome.com

A thicker, slab quartz-top island with integrated bookcases. Image: Ben Trager Homes

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Quartz is not porous — no sealing is required — so staining is virtually impossible. That makes clean up pretty easy— a quick wipe should get rid of any spills or stains. Quartz is less likely to scratch and, according to the Mohs Hardness Scale, quartz comes in at a 7, compared to a 6 for granite. They are close in hardness, but quartz surfaces are just a bit tougher.

granite vs quartz - freshome.com

A warm-toned ivory quartz ties in with the wood cabinetry. Image: Unique Spaces

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Consider quartz as your next kitchen or bathroom surface. There are a growing number of companies offering a great variety of color, style and texture options that are bound to beautify your space and provide durable and beautiful surfaces for years to come.

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